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Pacquiao may delay Philippines return amid flu fears

  • Story Highlights
  • The Philippines planned a "national day of celebration" for Pacquiao on his arrival
  • Filipino govt. concerned boxer's motorcade could spread virus to someone in crowd
  • The Philippines has not reported any confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus
  • The virus has an incubation period of seven days
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(CNN) -- The Philippines has asked boxing idol Manny Pacquiao to delay his hero's return to the country as a precaution against the spread of swine flu from the United States.

Pacquiao lands a solid right to Hatton on his way to a comprehensive victory.

Pacquiao lands a solid right to Hatton on his way to a comprehensive victory.

Pacquiao, considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, cemented his reputation Saturday night when he knocked out British boxer Ricky Hatton in the second round of a match in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 30-year-old is a national hero in the Philippines where his bouts bring the country to a standstill. The nation planned a "national day of celebration" for him on Friday.

However, the country's health secretary on Wednesday told Pacquiao to go into self-quarantine, either in Los Angeles, California -- where he went with his family after his victory -- or in Manila. It means any celebration will have to be delayed.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the orders come after the World Health Organization confirmed a third-generation human-to-human transmission of the H1N1 virus, as swine flu is officially known.

"Essentially the recommendations are two," Duque told CNN. "One is that Manny Pacquiao imposes self-quarantine beginning today in Los Angeles and postpone his trip back to Manila for Monday. And then the other option is if he can't do that, he has to be quarantined here. He has to be told to impose self-quarantine as soon as he arrives in Manila."

The orders are the same for any traveler coming from Los Angeles, Duque said.

After five days, if Pacquiao is not displaying any signs or symptoms of the flu, he can leave quarantine, said Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the country's national epidemiology center.

The virus has an incubation period of seven days. Symptoms of swine flu are not apparent during the incubation period, and a seemingly healthy-looking person can pass it on during that time.

The Filipino government is concerned that the Pacquiao motorcade could spread the virus to someone in the crowd during the rally if any one in his entourage is infected.

The Philippines has not reported any confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus. But officials there are worried about the number of cases of the virus confirmed in California.

By Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported 49 confirmed cases in the state out of a total of 403 cases in 38 states.

Pacquiao told Filipino reporters he will make a decision by Thursday morning.


Nicknamed "Pacman," he grew up poor in General Santos City in the southern Philippines. He found boxing as a way to lift himself to fame and riches, yet he remains self-deprecating outside of the ring.

It is this combination of being a fierce fighter in the ring and a smiling deferential one outside that has helped turn him into an idol.

CNN's Saeed Ahmed contributed to this report.

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